When you’re a founder, a CEO, or otherwise in charge of a company, ‘building a business’ isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s what you’re doing every day. Building a business means hiring and developing staff, expanding your customer base and the selection of products you offer them, and building your brand – the reputation of your business that tells new customers it’s the right one for them and existing customers it’s time to come back to you.
If you make the wrong decisions, you could find your business veering away from what you really want from it. Even a small wrong turn could, over time, build up into the sort of cataclysmic error that drives you to shut down.
It could be in your supply chain, where a single inefficiency grows as your business scales to eventually represent a huge cost, draining away your profits. It could be in your marketing and publicity: with the wrong emphasis, you could find you’re driving away the customers you hope to attract. For example, a campaigning emphasising the value for money on offer and highlighting deals could instead devalue your brand. If you’ve been targeting an audience who look for luxury, telling them you’re a discount brand is a sure fire way to drive them away without replacing them with an equally large and committed group to take their place.
To make sure you can be certain you’re building the right business, you need an injection of data. Running a consistent Brand Tracker survey will measure customer responses to your marketing and advertising will make sure it’s actually having the desired effect. It’s important to keep this research running in the background over a long period – the value of it is in seeing how your customers respond long term, giving you not just information on their response to particular campaigns and issues, but also a baseline. You need to know what ‘normal’ looks like before you can dig into reasons why people deviate from it, whether it’s in a good way or a bad way.
Similarly, monitoring the profits and costs of your business, and the risks you’re exposed in the course of your work (not just financial, but reputational) help you make informed decisions, and spot early when things start to go wrong. It’s always easier to smooth over a molehill than a mountain, so spotting problems early and responding constructively is the key to building a business that’s perfect for you.